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Blog Posts. Mindfulness

A Helping Hand

The Courage of Forgiveness

“Forgive to let Yourself be free.”

You may or may not see how Christmas can ever be associated to one's courage.
It can get hard having to answer during your family gathering why you are still
not married, why you are still not talking to your cousin or why you cook in a certain way. Uh, I can relate!

Why forgiving and apologising is a sense of courage...
As humans we may be filled with pride and ego, so for someone to admit that
they are in the wrong, it truly shows our courage and bravery.
We are sometimes scared to apologise because
we are afraid of it not being accepted and we refuse to feel rejected.

It has always been my kinda thing to talk to my fiance about my problems. It makes me feel better. I know he doesn't always understand everything that I'm feeling, but he always knows when I’m sad & what to say. He's my best friend. When I talk to him about my problems, he will respond to me with "It’s going to be okay you know, it always is”, just to give me some comforting reassurance.
This morning, I talked to him again about a problem with someone, and he said "why don’t you say sorry for your part in it all". He says this a lot. Many times before. It's like a kid's every solution to a problem is to, apologise. How I wish adults could say sorry in the simple and
meaningful way as children do.

It’s supposed to be as simple as that but we make it complicated and at times gamey. The best thing we can do is to own up to our mistakes and to make the first move and apologise.

Even if it may not fix the problem, it’s a brave start.

When someone apologises we can feel pressure to forgive, to fix and heal so quickly but it can still take time to truly heal. For example You wouldn’t want to lose the love of your life just because you can’t say ‘sorry’ and to work on forgiving. It may be a battle, but who knows what it’s worth.

Often we repress our difficult emotions and Christmas can be another episode of lodging up new emotions that we ‘Shouldn’t feel at such a happy time’. Festive celebrations can be pressure despite all the love and fun that may come with it.

So why not, this Christmas, make it a new resolution of freeing yourself and letting go. It's okay to allow yourself to be happy, it's okay to cry and it's okay to get angry. Remind yourself you are entitled to feel.

Learn to forgive others and yourself… forgive yourself that you yelled at your parents, forgive yourself for drinking too much and forgive yourself for hurting the people you love. Remember what matters... Your freedom.

Feel the Fear

We can all feel fear from time to time but there are people who unfortunately suffer more than others... I read an amazing book Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway (I'm not on commission ;) and below I have added some helpful truths.

'At the bottom of everyone of your fears is simply the fear that you can not handle whatever life may bring you'.

The Truth is: If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear?
The Answer is: Nothing! You can handle all your fears without having to control anything in the outside world.

In order to diminish your fear you have to work on 'Developing more trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way!'
Mantra- "Whatever happens to me, a given any situation, I can handle it!"

Fear Truths:
The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow. (Faulty thinking is 'When I feel better about myself then I'll...')
The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out & do it.
Not only are you going to experience fear whenever you're on unfamiliar territory but so is everyone else to some degree.
Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness. People who refuse to take risks live with a feeling of dread that is far more severe then what they would feel if they took the risks necessary to make them less helpless.
The knowledge that you can handle anything is the key to allowing yourself to take risks.
By reeducating the mind you can accept fear as a fact of life rather than a barrier to success.
As you build confidence in yourself, your relationship with fear will alter dramatically.

Practice: Feeling the Fear & Doing It Anyway!

Mindfulness Newcastle & Consett

We provide mindfulness therapy in both our Newcastle and Consett rooms. But what exactly is Mindfulness?

The definition of Mindfulness is "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."

Basically, mindfulness is a very simple form of meditation. You focus your full attention on your breathing pattern, as it flows in and out of your body. You focus on each breath and this enables you to really observe your thoughts as they come to mind and, slowly, you will be able to let go of them. You learn that thoughts come and go of their own accord; and they are just that, your thoughts.

You can watch as they come to your mind and continue to watch again as they disappear in to thin air. Just like these thoughts you will begin to realise that both positive and negative thoughts and feelings will come and go, and you have the power to decide whether or not you want to act on them.

I think it is amazing that the popularity of mindfulness is increasing. I have recently read that over 4000 teachers are now qualified in meditation exercises to help combat pupil stress - "Close your eyes and breathe: schools sign up to mindfulness" - taking a step in the right direction!

Take Me To Your Leader

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail - Harold R. McAlindon

Learn to see things backwards, inside out, and upside down - John Heider, Tao of Leadership

Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it - Dwight D. Eisenhower

While a good leader sustains momentum, a great leader increases it - John C. Maxwell

A leader is a dealer in hope - Napoleon Bonaparte

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader - John Quincy Adams

Be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader - George S. Patton

In governing, don't try to control - Tao Te Ching

Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm - Publilius Syrus

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity - George Patton

What you cannot enforce / Do not command - Sophocles

Character Building Quotations

Reputation is for time; character is for eternity - J. B. Gough

Nothing of character is really permanent but virtue and personal worth - Daniel Webster

Character is like a tree and reputation is like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing - Abraham Lincoln

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right path, the the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands -
Anne Frank

Every man has a right to be valued by his best moment - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The essential thing is not knowledge, but character -Joseph Le Conte

Dream Big

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined - Henry David Thoreau

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world - Harriet Tubman

All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible - T.E. Lawrence
I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past - Patrick Henry

No one has ever achieved anything from the smallest to the greatest unless the dream was dreamed first - Laura Ingalls Wilders

Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer - Marcia Wieder

Repeat after me

In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet. - Albert Schweitzer

Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold; the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul. - Democritus

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts; therefore guard accordingly. - Marcus Aurelius

People with many interests live, not only longest, but happiest. - George Matthew Allen

Happiness is not a goal, but a by-product. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities. - Aldous Huxley

There is only one person who could ever make you happy, and that person is you. - David D. Burns, M.D., Intimate Connections

We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. - Frederick Koenig

I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life, than on the nature of those events themselves. - Baron Alexander von Humboldt

Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get. - Various Attributions

The only way on earth to multiply happiness is to divide it. - Paul Scherer

Happiness depends upon ourselves.- Aristotle

Believing makes it possible

They can because they think they can. - Virgil

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. - Thomas Jefferson

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen. - Frank Loyd Wright

There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way. - Christopher Morley

Success is the child of audacity. - Benjamin Disraeli

Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius. - An Wang

Failures to heroic minds are the stepping stones to success. - Thomas Chandler Haliburton

The greatest results in life are usually attained by simple means and the exercise of ordinary qualities. These may for the most part be summed in these two: common-sense and perseverance. - Owen Feltham

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.
- Vince Lombardi

Words of Wisdom

The best way out is always through. - Robert Frost

He who moves not forward goes backward. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Men's best successes come after their disappointments. - Henry Ward Beecher

Strong lives are motivated by dynamic purposes. - Kenneth Hildebrand

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. - Samuel Johnson

Fortune favours the brave. - Publius Terence

When the best things are not possible, the best may be made of those that are. - Richard Hooker

In doubtful matters boldness is everything. - Publilius Syrus

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

In every difficult situation is potential value. Believe this, then begin looking for it. - Norman Vincent Peale

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We are still masters of our fate. We are still captains of our souls. - Winston Churchill

Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need. - Voltaire

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. - Samuel Smiles

You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind. - Author Unknown

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking. - William B. Sprague

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. - Samuel Johnson

Try not to become a man of success but a man of value. - Albert Einstein

Every artist was first an amateur. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be. -
Horace Bushnell

Nothing is worth more than this day. You cannot relive yesterday. Tomorrow is still beyond our reach. - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all of the time. - Anna Freud

In any project the important factor is your belief. Without belief, there can be no successful outcome. - William James

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. - Wayne Gretzky

We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough. - Helen Keller

Do not wait; the time will never be "just right." Start where you stand. - Napoleon Hill



I know people know about setting SMART goals but we can all do from a little refresher from time to time.
Last month my friend said ‘I want to be thinner’. I simply replied ‘How much thinner?’ but my friend wasn’t too sure and then said
‘maybe 9 stone’.
After we discussed the fact she loves food and hates dieting we looked at the need to be specific in goal setting. For my friend it actually became less about being a particular number on the scales and more about her wanting to feel fit, healthy and body confident. We looked at how she could achieve her new goal through exercise and making healthy food choices without mentioning the word ‘diet’.
Goals have to measureable otherwise how will you know you’re on the right track or that you have to alter your plan of action.
There are people who believe in setting big, challenging goals but how achievable, sustainable and motivational are they to you?
Can the smaller daily accomplishments be more rewarding?
If you can think of your goals as a series of achievable milestones and celebrate each one. ‘Bite size chunks’.
Setting realistic goals means they have to be something you can influence by your actions rather than getting them confused with dreams. Realism is an important personal choice about what you feel is possible for you.
Set your goals too big and you will fail. Set your goals too small and you will be bored and uninspired. Signs of progress should be inspiring and should accelerate your progress towards bigger goals.
Time-bounded goals can help to motivate by creating necessity and a sense of urgency. Establish a clear time frame, with a sequence of simple steps and take action. We can all think about starting something but doing is very different.

When setting your goals make them…
Within your control & about your behaviour rather than someone else’s.
SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic & Time-bounded).
Manageable. Working on two or three goals at time rather than overload and spreading yourself too thin.
Having varied goals from different areas of your life can prevent obsession but again not more than 3 different areas can be beneficial.

Achieving your goals…
Write them down
Say them aloud daily
Frequently visualise yourself achieving your goals.
Take action.
Make small steps every day.
Over time replace your goals that no longer inspire you.
Review your goals on a weekly basis.
Find happiness in the here and now so you can enjoy your journey.
Congratulate yourself for every milestone achieved.
Find your balance between work and play.

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

People can get caught up in trying to achieve perfection but it's at this time that people can feel more judged by others, more fearful, their ego gets involved, take life so seriously and they can become scared to make 'mistakes'.
The fear of these so called faux pas can make people play too safe and not take the next step rather than try new things, seeing what happens and learning valuable lessons. If we remove mistakes we actually remove the possibility of progress.
When people focus on 'getting it right' they are fearful and have negative thoughts stripping them of their confidence. If people could practice hushing their internal critique, be kinder to themselves and focus on positive thoughts this in turn would enhance positive feelings.
If they could learn to see that they are at least 'giving it a go' and they are 'good enough' they can then open themselves up to opportunities to work on updating their outdated beliefs. With new knowledge and experience people can then dust themselves off and keep moving forward.
People can miss many goodies in life when they play it too safe so remember:
"Life is what happens to you while you are on the way to where you think you need to be. Love like you've never been hurt and dance like nobody is watching." Xx

NEW YEAR's Resolutions

Have you made any New Year promises?
Have you broke any of those promises yet?
I remember reading a magazine many years ago that said 'If you start your resolutions in February instead of January you are more likely to succeed'. The reason for this is that there are 'no excuses in February'... all the Christmas treats are eaten and you're full swing into your normal routine at home and at work.
The magazine, which I can not remember it's title unfortunately, went on to say 'if you make your resolution a habit, it becomes second nature therefore you're more likely to keep your resolution'.

A few helpful points:
It only takes 28 days to form a new habit
Switch your focus - Try replacing the words "I'm giving up..." with "I'm going to... (new habit)"
Reward yourself along the way with a new book, new music, a long hot bath or a trip away rather than "treats" like a cake or a bottle of wine.
Plan ahead as "Failing to plan is planning to fail" - Alan Lakein.
Be honest with yourself so you can set realistic and manageable goals and therefore do not set yourself up for failure.
Practice seeing a set back as a challenge not a reason to give up. Try out new creative solutions to set backs and remind yourself why you planned the resolution in the first place.
Write a list of the benefits of sticking to your New Year plan and keep them handy and go to this list in trying times.
Visualise yourself succeeding.

Have a happy & successful 2016


Soul Soothing

The lead up to Christmas can be a really fun time but we can also be left feeling stressed and burned out. When we've got a lot going on in our lives and experience excess pressure it affects our wellbeing and produces a variety of physical, psychological, emotional and behavioural symptoms.
Being able to switch off at the end of the day can prove difficult and it can effect our sleep. Sleep is vital during times of stress as it gives your body a chance to repair itself and relax... A warm bath before bed, a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow or some breathing exercises/meditation may help you to drift off.
'The more we can take good care of ourselves, the more people around us benefit.' So that massage you've been putting off could be a win-win for everyone.
Make sure you let others know how you are feeling as when people are aware of your needs, situations and feelings they can help. People can find it difficult to open up to friends and family and ask for what they need. A counsellor can help you to identify your needs and support you while you learn how to let others in.
What you don't express gets stored as pent-up energy in your muscles which can leave you feeling drained and tired.
Soothing and calming music such as classical is valuable at reducing levels of stress and anxiety as it can slow down the heartbeat which helps people to relax. Consider trying different things to see what works for you.

Have a lovely Christmas X

Loving Yourself

Whilst studying for my degree in counselling I completed group therapy for a short while in place of individual sessions which were very insightful as well as challenging. I gained a lot from the sessions, learning about myself from talking about my experiences as well as learning from the other students.
I was kindly given a book as a gift which I still read from time to time called 'When I loved myself enough'. The book is described as 'a collection of wisdom' and the message is simple 'loving yourself holds the key to loving others and having others love you.'
This book inspired me to write my own ways of 'cultivating love and compassion for myself':
When I loved myself enough...
I counted my blessings & became truly grateful.
I saw my qualities & my strengths.
I re-evaluated & understood success, like confidence, comes in various forms.
I gave myself permission to be me.
I began asking for what I need & sharing my authentic feelings.
I believed in myself.
I slowed down... At certain times at least as my 'Hurry up' still catches me out.
I started to take time out just for me without guilt.
I forgave myself for past choices without judgement from my now older, wiser, happier present self.
I became more present & enjoyed the simple things in life.
I stopped trying to rescue everyone else.
I stopped making effort with fruitless friendships without blame.

Live, laugh & Love



We are beings who constantly think filling our mind with thoughts that either help or hinder us. We can feel bogged down, depressed, anxious and feel useless when we tune into our internal chatterbox and believe everything negative it says about us and others.
I am a big believer that 'like attracts like' and with one negative thought brings about more like minded thoughts. Unless we build on our AWARENESS of ourselves and learn to look for evidence that contradicts this voice of doom and gloom we can get caught in a vicious cycle.
Our thoughts can trap us in the past and/or the future leaving very little time for the present. Right here, right now is all we have and learning to be more MINDFUL and present can help us to be able to see some of the goodies that life has to offer and truly enjoy them.
Our thoughts we have,
lead to how we feel,
which in turn leads to how we behave...
Some people want escapism from their thoughts and feelings which can feel intolerable to them. To name a few, this is where overeating, controlling tendencies and drug & alcohol misuse can come into play. These avoidance tactics may work for a time in terms of avoiding the present thoughts and feelings but ignoring the parts of yourself that so desperately want to be felt and understood brings little to no long term relief.
We can subconsciously punish ourselves by ignoring the parts of ourselves that were missed/unnoticed by others as we were growing up. We need to be able to learn how to love and care for ourselves in a way that we all deserve and sometimes this starts with listening to our thoughts and how we talk to ourselves and learning how to be kinder to ourselves.
Working through difficult thoughts and painful feelings in counselling or with a trusted friend or family member can bring about positive change and help you make sense of your thoughts and feelings so your mind really does feel less full!

Your answers are within you

Occasionally after a new counselling client has told me about their life and outlined the difficulties they are facing, 'hope' can appear, hope that I can 'fix the problem', give advice in terms of 'What to Do' and provide a 'quick fix.'
I do not tell my clients what to do as if 'I know it all' and as if there is only one way (my way) of doing things. Rather the process is working together so we can explore ways to do things and learn more in depth about what has brought the client to therapy.

Over time it can become clear the reason why a client came to counselling is the symptom of something else and not the cause... If at the beginning a client was told 'What to do' the answers would be to a problem that is not the one that needs attention plus the client would not have been on her own journey to discovery.
Throughout my clients journey they can learn new skills that can help them when faced with a similar challenge in the future.
'What a client discovers on their own is more personally meaningful than what the therapist figures out for them'.

Over time a client can learn to trust themselves, trust that they have their 'own answers' and trust what they think and feel.

Enjoy your journey x


Want to feel happier? Looking in the right places? Happiness is determined more by a persons state of mind than by external events so we often need to work on our mental outlook rather than seek happiness through external sources...
Our outlook is a huge contributing factor to our moment-to-moment happiness and whether we are feeling happy or unhappy at any given moment has very little to do with our absolute conditions but rather how we perceive our situation.
A person's level of life satisfaction can be enhanced by shifting their perspective and contemplating 'how things could be worse'.
In place of 'wishing you were a...' try completing the sentence 'I'm glad I'm not a ...' this can help people to feel more satisfied with their lives.
We can become happier by the practice of appreciating what we have now and what we can do rather than what we can not and comparing ourselves unfavourably to others.

Live, Laugh & Love

Goals can be a great way to motivate but sometimes we set goals that are too specific and too ambitious which can leave us feeling bad.
Setting a time frame for when you want to achieve your goals can be helpful but cut yourself a little slack as all work and no play throws your balance off. Consider condensing your goals in to bite size chunks as sometimes looking at 'all' you have to do can become overwhelming which can lead to inaction and giving up.
"If you want to succeed, just take the next step and the one after that and keep going" Fiona Harrold. Counsellor & Life Coach
Be kind to yourself along your journey and learn to notice the things that you are doing well, the things that you have achieved and take a little breather where you can feel proud and gather the energy for the next step.
We can throw boulders in our own paths at times so ask yourself...
'Will what I am about to do bring me closer to or take me further away from my goals?' - Zig Ziglar.
Sometimes we can be indecisive and not know what we want or need which can panic us as we can feel we 'need to know where we're going' and feel in 'control'. The doom and gloom of the chatterbox can then rear its ugly head... "STOP, Slow Down, Calm Down, Draw attention to Your Breathing and Trust that 'It's all happening perfectly'. The stage of 'not knowing' does not last forever!
I say 'Take your work seriously but not yourself'. Make room in your life for yourself, the things you enjoy doing and your loved ones.
'Life is what happens when you're making other plans'.
Live, laugh and love x


Change: An act or process through which something becomes different.

The counselling process can start from the moment people feel “Enough is enough. I can’t go on like this.” They then take action to find a counsellor who can help them shed light on themselves and their lives. The counselling client has a huge impact on how therapy proceeds too... Clients have to be open to therapy, they have to open themselves up to trusting the therapist and be willing (to try) to believe in the therapeutic process. They have to be committed and put in the hard work as counselling can be challenging at times. There’s lots of self-reflection involved and there needs to be a willingness to change. Change can be difficult, not only for the client, but for the people around them so the process can take time.

The client needs to take what has been learned from the counselling sessions and apply it to the rest of their lives. When the client takes these learning’s out into the world that is when the big life-changing moments happen.

It’s still okay when people come to see me and they are only ready to ‘think’ about change rather than take immediate action. Sometimes people just want to get used to an idea of change, build up their confidence, prepare themselves, see new possibilities and talk about the fears that hold them back. After a client has had several counselling sessions to think about change they are often able to give themselves permission to reach out for support again in the future… when change feels right for them. A client needs to feel supported not pushed.

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